Where the child's interest inspires great work
Maitri Learning creates educational materials that are research-based, accurate, beautiful, durable, and usable. Maitri Learning was founded somewhat accidentally by a Montessori teacher who was trying to buy the perfect materials for her classroom and couldn't find them anywhere. Now, the materials she created (based specifically on the precise directions received in her AMI training) are used by Montessori teachers, parents, and teacher trainers around the world. We are named after the Buddhist word maitri which means 'having a compassionate, kind heart.' We keep the principle of maitri at the front of all of our business decisions.
When you order Maitri Learning materials you can be confident that you are receiving materials of the highest educational value. All of our materials are designed by a Montessori teacher and rigorously reviewed and tested by Montessori teacher trainers, teachers, and children before they are offered for sale. Our research-based materials contain exactly what you and your children need and nothing else.
Maitri is a green, eco-friendly, fair-wage, right-livelihood, woman-owned business. We pay all of our employees at least $15/hour, which should be our country's national minimum wage. Our prices reflect these fair labor costs along with the higher costs of environmentally-sound paper, toxin-free laminate, and inks made without ozone-depleting substances.
$18.95 USD $9.50 USD
've been working with Libertas Public Montessori School in Memphis. One of our many projects is to open a new Primary class. So, I've been investing a great deal of time in looking at material suppliers, thinking about plants, and measuring heights for tables and chairs. Since I know I'm not the only one doing this work, I decided to post my thoughts and discoveries here so we can all benefit...and maybe get a few of you to post some replies!
Sometimes our space has many low windows that bring a gorgeous natural landscape right into our classrooms. Sometimes, we have cinder block walls up to a drop ceiling. We have to work with what we have but in all cases, we must prioritize the natural world. Not just because I say so, but because research shows that views of nature have significant effects on attention and learning.
If you have windows with views of nature, showcase them. Put your easel right in front of them. Set many tables so that they look out on the vista. Banish your curtains and shades unless the sunlight is blinding.
If your windows look out on a parking lot or a busy walkway, hang half or quarter curtains. You want these at about 4-5' high and extending just to the window sill. The objective is to protect the child's attention by blocking unsightly or busy views while still letting in as much natural light and sky views as possible. Make sense?
If you don't have windows, bring nature in. Get plants that will grow in the lighting you have,... lots of them. Give serious thought to a large fish tank or other pet terrarium. Minimize your use of fluorescent overhead lights and invest in lamps with those great bulbs that mimic natural light. (Be mindful of the cords, though. Keep those safely tucked away.) Build a canopy out of sticks. Get creative and find ways to make your classroom alive with the natural world. (Click on the photo for links to more ideas from childroots.)
I remember the first parent-teacher conference I had. My daughter was not quite 3 years old and I had no idea what to expect. Her teacher, Maggie Radzik (an amazing Montessorian who deeply inspired me), sat down with me and said, "She's doing fine. I have no concerns. Do you have any questions?"
That was unexpected. She let me lead the dialogue and I had TONS of questions (like what are those "metal insects" my daughter wants to get her hands on so badly and how come she puts on her shoes all by herself here but not at home). That was the beginning of our teacher-parent friendship. It was also my introduction to this Montessori way of non-judgmentally and optimistically accepting each child for who they are.
Later, when I was a trained Montessorian myself and had to hold my own parent-teacher conferences, I always kept Maggie's example in mind. I don't think I did as well as her at first. I was nervous. I spoke too much. Sometimes I got caught up in deviations rather than focusing on normalization. But in every meeting, it turned out that the parents were actually the teachers and I was the student.
The other day, I had the great pleasure of observing at a brand new Public Montessori School in Memphis, TN. Libertas Montessori school has been opened for not quite 9 months. 95% of their children live in poverty. In case you aren't familiar with this, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face incredible challenges. One challenge that's been studied a lot is their diminished exposure to vocabulary.
At lunch time, I sat at a table with a few children and opened the healthy lunch one of the teachers (Carly Riley, also known as Dobby the house elf) made me. Among the dishes Carly prepared for me was half an avocado with the pit still in. This was like a bowl full of diamonds before the children. One after another, they approached me and asked, "Are you going to eat that?" And they'd touch the pit still sitting in the avocado.
So here was an opportunity to share my knowledge...yippee!! We spoke about the skin and pit (like an orange with seeds) and the flesh (mashed up for guacamole) and our relationship began. In that moment, they knew that they could look to me for knowledge. I had to file away the need to give them a grace & courtesy lesson about not sticking their fingers into someone's lunch and join them in their curiosity.
This tiny little interaction revealed the glorious and fragile nature of the absorbent mind. Young children are curious, open-hearted, and courageous. They are driven to answer the question, "What is this world?" As they went to sort their leftovers into the compost bins, they had to stop by and engage with that foreign object I brought into their world. They had no fear (or inhibitory control). Their interest in learning about the world trumped all else. It is easy to loose sight of that truth when a child with a runny nose and snot on their hand touches your lunch!